Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oma's Pages #36

Oma’s Pages #36
Since nobody was doing anything about us getting a new apartment, I prayed and prayed that Opa and I could find one ourselves. Getting into an apartment here is very very different than it is in America or anyway in Utah. It is extremely complicated. In every spare minute we had we were looking for places to live. I had always dreamed of living in a little old Dutch house that dated back to forever ago. So we looked at the old, the new, and the in between. 

Opa and I had to take turns working in the kitchen we had because it was so small, so we really needed a new place to live. If I baked something in the oven I had to put whatever it was on the floor in the living room when I took it out of the oven because there was no place else to set it.

We also did not know for sure where to live. The people in Leeuwarden wanted us to live there and the people in Groningen wanted us to live there. I thought I wanted to live in Leeuwarden because the houses there were cheaper. The Mission President told us that we had to live in Groningen. He thought that would be safer since the JoVo Centrum was in Groningen and we got home much later from JoVo’s than we did from visiting members in Leeuwarden. 
At last we found a place. It was perfect. It was new and it was in an apartment house or a flat as they call it here. The first time we went to this place the model home was open so we just walked in and made ourselves at home. We went there several times. I wanted to just climb into the bed that they had in the model and stay there. Robert contacted all the people involved to get a contract, but nothing worked. At last they told us that they would not rent to a corporation. The Church has to rent the apartment so that when we go home somebody else can live there. 
I was crushed. I cried. It was probably the lowest point of my mission so far. I told Heavenly Father that we wanted to do our work but that everything was so hard.... We were so cold.... we had to walk so far..... we had to park so far away..... we had to do all the computer work at the Church in the middle of the night when nobody was doing Family History....... I was so tired and so discouraged. I just wanted a nice warm bed and some time to sleep in it.
After I had a great big pity party.... I sat and thought and thought about everything and suddenly it hit me. I thought about other times in my life when I prayed for something that I really needed and it did not come out the way I thought it should. And so I said a prayer and talked to my Heavenly Father and said, “Okay, Heavenly Father, We have done everything we know how to do. It has been my experience in the past that when things don’t go the way we want them to go it means that you have something better in mind. We have run out of options here, so could you please tell us what to do or where to look. Or can you just take care of this problem so that we spend our energies on missionary work instead of all this piddly house finding stuff.
And boom.... a few days later Thies deJonge called us and told us about an apartment building that was not selling fast enough so they had decided to rent some of the units. We went right over to see it and it was the best most marvelous place we had seen since coming to Holland! 

I stood in the bare empty unfinished living room, opened the window, and looked across the canal to the City of Groningen and felt like I had a home.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Oma's Pages #35

Oma’s Pages #35
We discovered that Real Estate people were showing our apartment without telling us because it was for sale. When I discovered this was happening I did not feel like I could leave my computer there or anything else like my i-pod that was worth money. So everywhere I went I felt like a pack horse. I had to carry my backpack plus a very large bag with all of our other things that we needed for the long days of missionary work. Nothing was happening for us to get a new apartment. We really needed a new place to live and I was beginning to get discouraged about that. 

The sign on the window of our apartment says Te Koop that means "for sale".... A funny thing is that one of the young Elders here thought it was the name of a very large Real Estate Company because he saw Te Koop on buildings in every city... ha ha ha ha 

Besides being cold and having to walk in the icy cold and not being able to get over having really bad chest colds... we had a car that had two kinds of fuel systems. You started the car with the battery and then after you drove a short way you had to stop and turn the car off and then turn it back on and it would switch to the other fuel system which was LP gas or natural gas. It was very scary to stop at a stop light or along some busy street and turn the car off and hope it would turn back on.

The black spot on the back of the car is where you insert the natural gas

You will notice that the license plate reads Ph-Zt which to me was a fizz-it which is how I felt about this car.

One day we got a call from the Mission Office. They had a brand new car for us to pick up. It was the most fun day for me so far on this mission. It was the first day we could not plan to do anything except drive to Cappelle an de Ijssel which is way down south from where we were. I so glad for the break. We met the Tibbetts who were the office couple. We picked up our new car. I don’t think I had ever gotten a brand new car with NO miles on it ever in my life. I was hoping and hoping it was not a white car and it was not white. It was a color that I loved. What a great day!

Elder and Sister Tibbetts

Opa is standing between our new car on his right (which is on the left side of the picture for you) and our old car on his left. As you can see the new one is much larger and a very pretty taupe color

We have named our Garmin (the car gps system) Hair brained Henderkien or Henny for short. We call it that because the only voice on the system in Dutch is a woman’s voice and we have it set to take us on the fastest route possible. This means that sometimes she tells us to get off the freeway and then she takes us on little tiny roads we would never have known existed if it were not for her. We call her hair brained because the phrase in Dutch that means “recalculating” sounds like “Hairrrr berakening” or in English hair breaking. All the time Opa doesn’t listen to Henny and she just keeps yelling at him, “Hair be-rakening” over and over. I tell him that poor Henny will not have any hair left by the time we leave the Netherlands. 
On this day when we left the car dealership there was some kind of a problem on the freeway system and Henderkien took us on an amazing route of old farm houses and beautiful scenery we would have never seen if it had not been for her..... It was a great day!
I began to think things were starting to look up. I was so happy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oma's Pages #34

Oma’s Pages #34
Okay so back to my story....
Another issue we had was that we had to get a Visa.... This was not a credit card. It was a card that gives us permission to live in this country for a year. We walked to the Grote Markt in the City Center and signed ourselves into the Groningen City at the Stadhuis.

This is the Grote Markt from the top of the Martini Toren. The Stadhuis is behind the Toren so you can see the Grote Markt but not the Stadhuis.

It was so cold when we walked to the City that my feet were so numb I could not feel them for at least an hour after we got home. I told Robert I had to have a pair of boots and the next time we went to town I wanted to drive there. We had to take some extra paperwork into the Stadhuis so when we drove I saw this man and his son and their sled. They were in the park near where we live. I felt sorry for them. There were other fathers and children who were being pulled or pulling sleds. The reason I felt sorry for them is that there are no hills in Holland to sleigh ride down. So the only thing they know is just a little pull here and there. But since they don’t know anything else then they were happy with what they had.

Notice how old fashioned the sleds look here. 

We then took that paper to the Rabobank near our apartment at the Paddepoel Mall and asked them to process an account for us so we could handle the JoVo money. They told us that we had to have our visa card but they would open a temporary account until we could come back in 60 days or less with the number that would be stamped on our visa to live in the country.
Later when we met with the other Senior Couples they were all talking about how they could get bank accounts going. Opa said they could just go down to their City and blah blah blah all the details of what we had just done. We were the newest couple. They all looked at us and said, “Oh you can’t do it that way.”  
Opa said, “Well, nobody told us you cannot do that so that is what we did and now we have a bank account and we are signed in with the City.”
It took the other Seniors months to process what only took us one day to do. I guess we were very lucky to have angels working for us because nobody else had such an easy time to do that as we did.

These Senior couples became our best friends. From left to right: Sister Anderson; Sister Beckstrand; Elder Beckstrand is hiding behind his wife; Elder Anderson; Opa; Sister Pankratz; Elder Pankratz